Sunday, June 26, 2016

Back in the Canoe

I put in at the feral cat park after a long three weeks out of the canoe.  I head up and around Pope's Flat skirting the spartina cut banks watching for specimens to collect.  The tide is low and once I turn the upriver tip of the flat (island) I ride down stream on the river's native current.

the old landing

I pick up a bright yellow bird killer (lost fishing lure) from Carting Island and continue down stopping next among the old pilings and beams that are embedded in the east shore.  It doesn't show on maps, but it has the appearance of an industrial landing.  In the clutter is the bottom of a wooden speedboat and the corroded remains of a V-8 boat engine.  I collect a part from the engine.

A mile more and I enter the Wheeler Marsh noting the usual summer birds as I continue - osprey, mallards, swans, willets, wrens, redwing blackbirds, and lots of egrets.  At Milford Point I find two oyster catchers on the rocky beach.

I am early for the tide and find myself waiting for the level to rise.  I wait, write and then push on, but I run up to mudflat that I don't have the patience for.  I turn back and head upstream, aided by the flood tide.

Summer is a time of harsh light unless one starts early or late.  I take only a few photos.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

More Wrens, More Wren Nests

The tides were very high today, high enough that we avoid the low boat launch near the sea in exchange for the forest launch at Foote Bridge.  We put in about 45 minutes before high tide and all of the dead falls and boulders below the bridge are well submerged.  I was here just two days ago and the most obvious change is in the activity of the marsh wrens.  They are much more vocal today, which is probably connected to the male's nest building.  The other day I spotted just one new nest.  Today, we find them regularly...ten or twelve without putting effort into it.  Most are unfinished, not yet large enough to house a family of wrens.  Apparently, they do not finish one completely, but work on several at a time.  Each male will build up to 15 nests in an effort to attract a the nest clusters are usually the work of a single bird.  They have been busy.

wren nest
The air is soft and warm, but with a fresh light breeze that makes it perfect to be out in.  

in The Sneak
It is the usual mix of summer birds, great and snowy egrets here and there, osprey here and there, wrens everywhere above the salt marsh, willets below the railroad bridge, and glossy ibises either flying over at times or feeding out in the marsh center away from the river.   The Sneak is exceptionally wide and easy to paddle at this high of a tide and the willets come out to circle us and call out warning.  They must be nesting.  We take some time to check the osprey nests for chicks, but it looks like only the Cedar Island nest has one (as it did two days before).

The Foote Bridge put-in
We return up the East River, but take the side channel that connects to The Sneak as the tide ebbs.  The Sneak flows in both directions during ebb and we get a short fast ride upriver to near the railroad bridge before we have to go against the current again.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Near the Hadlyme Ferry

Nothing else quite sounds like that - a bit of wheeze with a bit of whirring and a dash of buzz.  Coming over my right shoulder are a half dozen swans, 15 ft up and 30 ft to the side...power flyers.  They head on down the river, down the middle of the big river, usually low but sometimes rising up 30 or 40 ft, a dotted white line on a backdrop of forest.  They must be a mile or more away when they finally blink out.
Therein lies Chapman Pond

I turn up from the little ferry dock and paddle the far side to the lower entrance to Chapman Pond.  I found this on my last trip here and this short section of meandering creek into the open pond is absolutely delightful.  Plants are in bloom; a couple white ones that I don't know and purple and yellow irises.  I think it's the white ones that smell so good.  At the bend with the tall dead top tree, a flicker calls out unseen.  It did this last time I was here as well.  I did not see it then either.  I'm sure that if I took my time I would find the perfect 2 inch circle opening to the nest...sure enough that I don't need to do so.  I turn back from the bottom of the pond and retrace my way in and go back down the river.

I just don't get this shit

Before the Selden Channel I admire the wildlife scare toys that the wealthy neighbors have placed on their property to keep nature at bay.  I do not get it.

Just as I enter Selden Cove, the big bad ass aggressive male swan comes speeding in flight from around the bend.  He lands a hundred yards off and turns toward me, head tucked low, wings held high, and pumping hard with the's a powerful pulsing motion that pushes a good bow wave off of his breast.  I've seen it before, it is a warning.  I'm familiar with this swan and I know it's all bluff, although a pretty effective bluff if you are new to him.  Now the trick is to not surprise the female.  At the top of the first bend I find the female in the backwater with four cygnets!  I move off. They move off.

Osprey taking off
The water is still high and there are a half dozen side trips in here.  I find a half dozen fresh scent mounds that I've not seen before just in between the cliffs.  A bit of a look and I find a couple channels that look just like beaver drag channels.  I don't see a lodge, but I don't have to.

I paddle on to near the other mouth and head back into the Elfin forest.  It's a narrow twisting channel that ends in a swamp of small stunted trees and shrubs.  I flush a male wood duck who drops a feather in the excitement.  I collect it.

I cross the main channel and head up toward the beaver lodge.  Beaver were in it 2 years ago.  Last year it looked like it might not be in use, but I couldn't be sure.  This time it is clear that it is abandoned. 
Red wing blackbird taking off

I head out from here, get taken off my game by a couple of idiot motorboats going way over the speed limit, tuck into Whalebone Creek, where I get my head back.  Then, finish the trip with a mildly windy crossing of the big river.